Advanced Reactor Safeguards

The Advanced Reactor Safeguards (ARS) program area in the Department of Energy, Nuclear Energy (DOE NE) seeks to support domestic deployment of advanced nuclear reactors by mitigating safeguards and security roadblocks. The program applies laboratory research and development to address near-term challenges advanced reactor vendors face in meeting Physical Protection System (PPS) and Material Control and Accounting (MC&A) requirements for U.S. construction.

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Key Thrust Areas

Direct Vendor Engagements

The ARS program provides direct support to vendors to assist in developing MC&A and PPS approaches for their facilities. This work examines design-specific challenges associated with advanced reactors, and generates creative solutions early in the development phase. Some engagements are in partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) through the NEXUS portal. Lessons learned from this work are available to all vendors, to promote knowledge-sharing in a growing industry.

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Graphic of security incident

Deve​lop Robust and Cost-Appropriate Physical Protection Systems

Security costs for nuclear reactors can be prohibitive. The ARS program is examining alternative PPS approaches that may drastically reduce the expenses associated with security. New technologies for detection, delay, and response are being actively developed and tested. These can be used alongside the security-by-design principles to optimize PPS systems.

Evaluate Material Control and Accounting Approaches for Pebble Bed Reactors

Some advanced reactor designs utilize alternative fuel forms, such as pebble-based fuel. Pebble Bed Reactors (PBRs) present a unique MC&A challenge in that tracking and counting the vast number of pebbles may be difficult for existing technologies and approaches. The ARS program is examining each aspect of the PBR design from a safeguards perspective, including the MC&A approach, pebble handling systems, burnup measurements, and the interface between physical protection and MC&A.

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Evaluate Licensing Strategies for Microreactors​

Microreactors are novel reactor designs, wherein a low, steady output of power is provided by a small-form factor reactor. Cost competitiveness is a high priority for these facilities. The ARS program is focused on designing optimal protection systems as well as interfacing with regulatory agencies (such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission), to ensure microreactors are safe, secure, and well-regulated.

Evaluate Material Control and Accounting Approaches for Molten Salt Reactors

Liquid-fueled molten salt reactors (MSRs) are singularly unique advanced reactor designs in that the fuel itself is in bulk form, as opposed to being discrete items (such as pebbles or fuel assemblies). The ARS program is examining an overall MC&A approach, as well as exploring new measurement technologies and statistical methods to achieve safety, security, and safeguards of MSRs.

Consider International Safeguards and Security Requirements

​Many advanced reactor vendors also consider international safeguards and security when designing their facility, in anticipation of international deployment. While focused on domestic safeguards, the ARS program partners with NNSA to support vendors with global aspirations.


Ben Cipiti, National Technical Director

DOE NE Advanced Reactor Safeguards Program                                 

Sandia National Laboratories

(505) 284-8757                                                                                                 

Savannah Fitzwater, Federal Program Manager

DOE NE Advanced Reactor Safeguards Program 

Department of Nuclear Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy